What You Dont Know Can Hurt Your Identity

by : Jedjenson

Think identity theft can't happen to you? Think again. Research shows that 10 million individuals will become a victim of identity theft this year. If you are not aware of the ways your identity can be stolen, it is very likely that you will be one of the millions of individuals who will have their identity stolen this year. The best defense against becoming a victim of identity theft is by knowing the 6 ways your identity can be stolen.

One way your identity can be stolen is through a lost or stolen wallet. Once thieves have your personal information from a driver's license, social security card or other identifying information from your wallet, they can open credit card and utility accounts in your name. They can also charge large amounts of merchandise on your credit cards. Thieves may also use your identity when dealing with the government to obtain public services, get a driver's license or official ID card issued in your name, but with their picture, or even give out your personal information when arrested. Some thieves have even been known to use someone else's identity when applying for jobs in order to use their background to pass criminal screenings.

The second way your identity can be stolen is by becoming comfortable with your day to day activities and your surroundings. Letting your guard down concerning your paper trail, especially your financial paper trails, is one way for thieves to access your personal information. Identity theft crimes are more likely to occur by someone you know or who you feel comfortable with. For example, if you employ someone who works in your home, such as a housekeeper, you need to be sure that your personal papers are kept in a secure location within your home. Be aware of who you perceive to be trustworthy before you allow them access to your home or personal records.

A third way thieves can access your personal information is by scouring dumpsters or trash cans to get receipts from financial institutions or pre-approved credit card applications. They can use this information to create counterfeit checks or open credit card accounts in your name. Thieves can also steal checks, bank statements and other financial documents straight from your mailbox before you ever know they are missing. It is important to monitor your incoming and outgoing paper mail and shred all financial documents before trashing them.

A fourth way thieves steal your identity is through telemarketing phishing scams. Callers may pretend to be an employee of a popular company, such as Wal-mart, and indicate that there was a problem with your payment. Most people fall for this type of scam hook, line and sinker. It is also important to be careful about what you tell others about yourself when on social websites or employment websites. Identity thieves are great at using any tidbits of personal information to take over someone's identity.

The fifth way thieves steal your identity is by literally looking over your shoulder. You should always be aware of your surroundings when standing at automated teller machines and even phone booths. A good thief can see what numbers you are typing when entering your pin number. They will then follow you, wait for a chance to get your ATM receipt, and then have access to all the money in your bank account. You should also be cautious of eaves droppers who overhear you giving your credit card or bank account information over the phone.

The sixth way to have your identity stolen is to fail to put protective measures in place to keep thieves from gaining access to your personal information. It doesn't matter whether you purchase identity theft protection services or put your own steps in place to protect your identity, the fact is, if you are not protected, you will have your identity stolen.

Knowing a thief's offense is by far the best defense in protecting your identity. Knowing how your identity can be stolen is the first step to guard against one of the 10 million individuals who will have their identity stolen this year. It is important to become aware of how thieves can access your personal information and so you can put protective measures in place.